Ruth 3 (New Living Translation)
Ruth at the Threshing Floor
1 One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes.
Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”
5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.
Several ancient threshing floors have been excavated in Israel. They are circular, level floors of laid stone, often on a hilltop. Men would take the bundles, or sheaves, of grain to this floor. There they would beat the heads of the grain to loosen the covering husk. Then they would separate the chaff from the grain by forking the grain up into the breeze and letting the wind blow the chaff away. The heavier grains would fall in a pile at their feet. This work was usually done in the evening, when the breeze picked up. The men would stay the night, sleeping besides their heap of grain to guard it. They would move it to their storage barn the next day.
7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.
“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”
A more literal translation of what Ruth said could be, “spread your skirt over me.” The word for skirt is the same Hebrew word as for wing — so, “spread your wings over your servant,” as the English Standard Version of the Bible puts it. This word is used another place in Ruth— in 2:12, where Boaz says to Ruth, “The Lord recompense you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under those wings you have come to take refuge.”
When Boaz heard Ruth’s request for covering, I think his heart said, “Because you take refuge under the wings of God, you are the kind of woman I want to cover with my wings.”
An old Ira Sankey song — “Under His Wings,” sung by another old gospel artist, Slim Whitman.
Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.
10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman.
Or to translate the Hebrew literally, “a woman of strength.” Ruth is a good match for Boaz, who is himself “a mighty man of strength” (as he was introduced to us in Ruth 2:1).
–Patricia K. Hull
Proverbs 31:10 (New King James Version)
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”
14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he returned to the town.
Proverbs 22:9 (New International Version)
A generous man will himself be blessed,
for he shares his food with the poor.
16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”
Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”
18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”
SPIRITUAL STRENGTH AND TRUST
by David Wilkerson
The Holy Spirit gives us strength when we release all our needs into God’s hands and trust in his might.
Ruth is an example of this kind of trust. After her husband died, Ruth lived with her mother-in-law, Naomi. Naomi was concerned about Ruth’s welfare and future. So she advised Ruth to lie down at the feet of the wealthy Boaz and ask him to fulfill his obligation to her as her kinsman.
That evening, after the day’s winnowing was finished, Boaz lay down “at the end of the heap of corn” (Ruth 3:7) and pulled a blanket over him. The next morning, he woke up startled, finding a woman lying at his feet. (There was nothing immoral about Ruth’s presence there; this was a common custom of the day.)
Ruth said to him, “Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9). She was saying, in essence, “Will you take on the obligation of a relative for me? Will you provide for me?” She actually was asking, “Will you marry me?”
This was no manipulative scheme. Ruth and Naomi had done everything in divine order. We can be sure of this, because Christ’s lineage came through Ruth. When Ruth returned home Naomi asked her, “Who art thou, my daughter?” (3:16). She was asking, in other words, “Shall I call you ‘engaged’ Ruth? Or are you still ‘widowed’ Ruth?”
Ruth told Naomi all that had happened. Listen to Naomi’s godly advice: “Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall: for the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day” (Ruth 3:18). Naomi had prayed about the matter, seeking God’s direction, and God had given her counsel. He had reminded her of the law of the kinsman-redeemer (which was a type and foreshadowing of Christ). So Naomi was confident that she and Ruth had done their part. Now it was time to sit still and trust God to perform what he had promised. She was saying, “It’s all in the Lord’s hands now, Ruth. Just relax and be calm.”
A calm and peace settled over Naomi’s house. Nobody was in a frenzy, biting fingernails and wondering, “Will God do it? When will it happen?” These two faithful women could relax, sing and praise the Lord for His goodness.
Have you prayed? Have you trusted? Are you ready to sit still and “see the salvation of the Lord”? He has everything under control.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.